Using MUNI and BART

San Francisco’s cable cars are fun and certainly a must-do experience for most visitors, but their range and routes are somewhat limited. If the questionable reliability and availability of taxis, as well as the expense is not for you, then your best bet is to get around via mass transportation. In San Francisco, mass transportation is provided by MUNI, and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) transports people in the greater metropolitan area. There simply isn’t a more convenient and cost-effective way to get around the city and surrounding area, so here are some tips to help you get started:

  • First off, point your web browser or smartphone at each agency’s site for route maps, fare structures, trip planners and other useful information:
  • Single ride tickets on MUNI cost $2 and include a transfer good for 90 minutes from the time you purchased your initial fare. These can be used to transfer to BART and vice versa and can be used almost everywhere in the system except cable cars. Cable cars are also operated by MUNI, but those fares are $6.
  • As previously mentioned, you can find route maps on each agency’s website, but you may also want to buy a paper map for $3 available at most major bus and train stations, as well as bookstores. These are very practical and useful tools for getting your bearings and learning how to get around.
  • If you are going to be in town for several days, you may wish to buy a 3- or 7-day MUNI Passport. These provide unlimited rides throughout the MUNI system, including cable cars, but are not good for BART fares.
  • For real-time arrival predictions on all MUNI street cars and most major bus routes, check out
  • If you prefer not to buy a Passport, and are not at a station with a ticket booth or ticket vending, you must pay the fare ($2 as of March 2013) in exact change using small bills or coins. The driver or conductor will not be able to make change for you.

After a few trips on the area’s mass transportation systems, you will have a much better idea of where things are, the major north/south and east/west thoroughfares in San Francisco and Bay Area and how to navigate like a pro! What is more, riding with area residents as they commute to work and run errands will give you a real feel for the flavor of the city and its people. If you have questions about how to get around, the people riding on public transportation are generally quite hospitable and eager to help our out-of-town guests. Whether you take a cable car, bus, streetcar or train, you’re certain to get around quickly and fairly easily during your stay!